Posts Tagged ‘neighbourhoods.’

Live Streaming Council Committee meetings – How we helped Birmingham City Council Billesley Ward Committee get online.

Posted on 28th March 2014 by

I’ve mentioned about how we’ve worked in South Birmingham in conjunction with the South Birmingham Community Safety Partnership when we wrote about what Austin Rodriguez , South Birmingham Safer Places officer had to say about the project.

What I haven’t said yet is that we’ve been working on a second phase of the surgeries with him.

Austin has been doing a great thing empowering the people he works with to use social media to talk to each other, to improve where they live and  to  build a stronger communities and with him we’ve continued to build on the momentum from phase one of the project.

In February we were holding a surgery in Bartley Green that  Alex Buchanan  – Ward Councillor of Billesley – attended. He came along with Austin with the idea that he’d like to trial live streaming his ward committee meeting .  Birmingham City Council have been live streaming their meetings from the council house and he wanted to see how he could make that work locally.

The Technology

Out in the community centres and church halls where community meetings are usually held there isn’t the infrastructure the council have  - there isn’t high speed Wi-Fi or  high definition webcams and high quality controlled audio. Nor is there a bespoke website to send the feed to,  so we had to look at what was available. 

Councillor Buchanan had invested in a laptop with a webcam and a decent microphone so we decided Google Hangouts would be the way to go, using the On Air function to stream to Youtube, which also meant it could be shared via other platforms and embedded into blogs – We spent about an hour looking at how this could work for them and then on the 20th February they put it into action.

Some observations – Be brave.

You can see in the video above that while the camera was positioned in such a way that the whole top table could be seen – the microphone struggled to pick everyone up. As the people farthest away from the set up took their turn to speak at times the audio wasn’t very clear at all but then they weren’t using a multi-directional mic that can pick everyone up like at the council house. What they had was a small mic plugged into a laptop  -  but  it could have been moved to pick up more voices.

This seems obvious watching it back but again it comes back to the fact this was a trial and a learning experience. What it needs next is just a bit of bravery, Bravery to do it again and to take what they’ve learned doing this and apply it. If during the meeting they were willing to pause proceedings by just a few seconds to re-position the mic before people took their turn to talk this would greatly improve the quality of the audio, make better use of the technology they have available and improve the experience for the community watching.

In saying that though it is fantastic that Councillors are looking at ways to open up the local democratic process to more people, and live streaming of meetings is definitely a good way to go. The fact that Councillor Buchanan was willing to even consider giving this a try is fantastic and who knows what could be next? What other public conversations could take place in – well – public?  

Birmingham Social Media Surgeries

Posted on 4th April 2013 by

Lynn Horsnett and Nick Booth
Lynn Horsnett and Nick Booth at Kings Norton SMS

Over the last few years the social media surgery movement has spread further than anyone could have imagined at that first (and supposedly one off) event back in 2008.  There are now surgeries held in 70 different towns and cities all over the uk, and further beyond, in Australia, Canada, Switzerland and even Nepal to name but a few.

But, in the birth place of the Surgeries, Birmingham, there has been another spread happening -less global and more local,  into our communities. In the last 6 months we have been working with partners such as the local strategic partnership and the police across the city and with their support there have been surgeries in:

as well as the continued support for the Central Birminham sessions.

These surgeries have been able to support people where they live and work, to enable them to get online to support the good work that they are doing in their neighbourhoods.

Like Lol Thurstan for instance, he came along asking for help distributing his monthly Neighbourhood Watch newsletter and we helped him set up a blog. Lol is now already exploring the possiblilities of sharing more than just hisNeighbourhood Watch news with his community – taking the idea of a neighbourhood magazine and reproducing it online, and there’s Sandra Turner. Sandra wanted some support promoting her community centre and finding out what was going on in her area. We sat with her while she set up a facebook page and later a twitter account so now she can do just that – it’s enabled her to share information online and make connections with others in her area.

And we’re not done yet. There are more dates already set and hopefully still more to come.  We’d love to see you there whether it to recieve some support or to offer your help. You can visit www.socialmediasurgery.com to register to attend any of these sessions, or find one nearer to you.

 

The value of Social Media in neighbourhoods and appealing to communities

Posted on 24th January 2013 by

Yesterday a sad thing happened; 2 children went missing. It was presumed at the time that they’d gone of their own volition and they were later found well and safe, but none the less it was an awful thing to happen.

This all happened in Darlaston, 5 miles from my house, in Wednesfield and as such when the press release went out appealing for witnesses we posted it to the WV11 site and Facebook page. We were aware that while the children weren’t strictly from the WV11 area our readership expands beyond our borders, and friends,and friends of friends,  would most definitely cross over into Darlaston and the surrounding areas.

We posted the photo from the appeal along with the copied the police release verbatim,  all we added to the post was two words at the end “please share”

And share people did.

Within an hour 565 people had re-posted the news direct from our facebook page and less than 2 hours later that number had jumped to 1984!

It seems to me 2 things had happened to make the numbers jump like that  - every parent that uses our site could empathise with the  situation these parents were in, no one can imagine, or would want to imagine, what it feels like to find your child missing like that, and going on the old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” everyone wanted to help raise awareness to bring these children home safely.

The other thing that happened was we were there, we were local and we we part of the community and we appealed to them directly with the “please share”!

Darlaston falls under Walsall Council  but it is fairly close to the border with Wolverhampton. Both Councils picked up the police release and shared to their facebook pages, Walsall’s post was shared 20 times, Wolverhampton’s 136.

The local radio station, Free Radio also picked up on it and shared to their page too, Their story was shared 550 times.

Looking at those figures it seems clear that being community based and very local really had an impact on the way the community interacted with the appeal.

The important thing here of course is that the children were found and returned home safe and well,  but as an observation it is interesting how much being part of a community can make a difference